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NHL Roundup : Penguins’ Play Improved--So Has Their Luck

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The Pittsburgh Penguins not only are a much-improved club, but they are starting to get a little good luck, too.

The winning goal in the Penguins’ 2-1 victory over the Maple Leafs Wednesday night at Toronto was scored when Toronto defenseman Borje Salming accidently put the puck into his own net.

It was a 1-1 battle with less than six minutes remaining when the Maple Leafs’ goalie Tim Bernhardt was checked in the corner while trying to clear the puck. The puck hit the side of the net. Salming tried to carry the puck past the goalmouth to get in position for a clearing pass. But the puck slipped off his stick into the net. The goal was awarded to Wayne Babych, the Penguin closest to the play.

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With this loss the Maple Leafs’ record fell to 6-27-5. They have replaced the Penguins as the worst team in the league.

Last season the Penguins won only 16 games and accumulated only 38 points.

Under Bob Barry, former Kings’ coach, the Penguins are the most improved team. They won their 15th game and already have 34 points, and still have 44 games remaining.

The victory enabled the Penguins to remain in fourth place in the tough Patrick Division, three points ahead of the New York Rangers.

Rookie Warren Young scored the legitimate Pittsburgh goal, his 24th of the season, in the first period on a penalty shot. Young, the Penguins’ leading scorer, was given the penalty shot when Salming, who had a bad night, tossed his stick at the puck.

Young approached rookie goalie Bernhardt slowly, faked a forehand shot, then tucked a backhand into the right side.

Toronto, ranked last in the league in power-play goals, tied the score early in the second period when Peter Ihnacak redirected a shot from the blue line over goaltender Roberto Romano’s shoulder while the Penguins were a man short.

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The Penguins’ improvement has been sudden. After stretching their winless streak to nine games with a 9-1 beating at the hands of the Capitals, the Penguins were 6-14-3.

An angry Berry chastized his team, shook up his lineup and gave Romano a chance to play. The Penguins are 9-3-1 in their last 13 games and are showing signs of becoming a good hockey team.

“Roberto had done a fine job for us,” Berry said. “In fact, everyone has been playing well. It was just a matter of gaining some confidence. When you lose all the time you get the feeling you can’t win. We seem to have lost that feeling.”

New York Rangers 6, Vancouver 0--The Rangers are showing signs that they are ready to battle the Penguins for the final playoff spot in the Patrick Division.

In this game at New York Mike Rogers scored twice and rookie goaltender John Vanbiesbrouck registered his first NHL shutout. The Rangers dominated play so thoroughly, that Vanbiesbrouck faced only 21 shots, most of them from long range.

Philadelphia 5, Edmonton 2--For the fourth time this season, Wayne Gretzky failed to score a point and the Oilers lost for the third time at Edmonton. The Oilers have lost three of the games in which Gretzky did not score.

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Brian Propp scored twice and the Sutter twins, Rich and Ron, each scored once to enable the Flyers to move to within two points of Washington in the Patrick Division.

New York Islanders 7, Detroit 2--Brent Sutter had a hat trick at Detroit and Mike Bossy became the 16th player in history to score 450 goals.

Bossy, who has scored more than 50 goals in each of his seven seasons in the league, reached the 450 plateau faster than any player ever. The mark figures to last only until Gretzky has another season or two behind him.

His second-period goal gave Bossy 34 goals in 37 games, is his best start since 1978-79 when he scored 50 goals in his first 50 games.

Chicago 3, Montreal 2--Tom Lysiak knocked in a 10-footer on a rebound in the second period at Chicago and 40 seconds later Curt Fraser drilled in a 20-footer as the Black Hawks won a battle of division leaders.

It was only the second win in the last six games for the Black Hawks.

Quebec 7, Hartford 3--Coach Michel Bergeron was not at all happy even though the Nordiques prevailed easily at Quebec. Bergeron was upset because his leading scorer, Michel Goulet suffered a fractured thumb in a fight with Kevin Dineen of the Whalers and will be out six weeks.

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“Goulet took a high stick from Dineen in the first period before the fight,” Bergeron said. “Goulet’s teammates have accused him of not being tough enough. Because of this, we’ll all pay the price for the next six weeks.”

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